What is the Best Poker Hand to Play Pre-Flop



In poker, particularly Texas Hold'em, the most advantageous hands to play preflop are those that demonstrate a greater probability of winning against competitor's ranges. 


This article will closely examine these superior starting hands to understand them better and ascertain the best choice.

Strongest Poker Hands to Play Preflop


Pocket Aces (AA)




  • Highest Preflop Equity: Pocket aces have the highest preflop equity against any other single starting hand. According to hand versus hand equity calculations, pocket aces typically have around 85% equity against a random hand and even higher against specific hands like lower pocket pairs or suited connectors.
  • Potential to Win Big Pots: Aces often win large pots due to their strength. Players with pocket aces are usually happy to get all their chips in before the flop, maximizing their chances of winning a massive pot.
  • Less Vulnerable to Overcards: Unlike lower pocket pairs or other strong hands like AK, pocket aces are less likely to be dominated by overcards on the flop, which increases their overall reliability.




  • Potential to be Outdrawn: While strong, pocket aces are not invincible. This hand can be outdrawn by sets, straights, or flushes if the community cards (flop, turn, and river) favour opponents who are holding hands that connect well with the board.
  • Difficult Decisions Post-flop: If the board develops unfavourably (with straight or flush possibilities), aces can become difficult to play, especially if opponents show strength through their betting.


Pocket Kings (KK)




  • Second Strongest Hand: Pocket kings are the second-best starting hand in Texas Hold'em, with very high preflop equity against most other hands.
  • Likelihood of Winning Big Pots: Like pocket aces, kings have the potential to win large pots, especially when opponents underestimate their strength and commit their chips.




  • Vulnerability to Aces: Pocket kings are vulnerable to pocket aces, where they have around 20% equity in that matchup. This makes them slightly less robust than aces in head-to-head confrontations.


Pocket Queens (QQ)




  • Strong Starting Hand: Pocket queens are also a premium starting hand, often considered the third-best after aces and kings.
  • Good Preflop Equity: Queens have good preflop equity against most hands, particularly lower pocket pairs and unpaired hands.




  • Vulnerable to Overcards: Queens, especially aces and kings, are vulnerable to overcards hitting the flop. If an ace or king appears on the flop, queens can be in a tough spot against aggressive opponents.


Ace-King Suited (AKs)




  • Versatility: Ace-King combines the potential to make a top pair or better with the added advantage of flush and straight possibilities.
  • Strong Preflop Equity: AKs have good preflop equity against most hands, particularly lower pocket pairs and unpaired hands.




  • Risk of Domination: Ace-King is suited to be dominated by pocket pairs, especially aces and kings. It is also vulnerable to being outdrawn post-flop by flops favouring opponents' range.


Best Starting Hand to Play As per Table Position


Cash Games


Early Position (Under the Gun - UTG)


  • Best Hands: Pocket pairs (AA-22), Ace-King (AK), Ace-Queen suited (AQs), Ace-Jack suited (AJs).
  • Reason: An early position requires strong hands due to the potential for facing raises from later positions. Pocket pairs and strong Broadway cards like AK have good equity against opponents' ranges.


Middle Position (MP)


  • Best Hands: This is similar to the early position but with a slightly wider range, including suited connectors (e.g., 76s, 89s) and more Broadway hands.
  • Reason: The middle position allows for a broader range of playable hands since you have more information about early position actions but still need to be cautious of later position players.


Late Position (Cutoff and Button)


  • Best Hands: All pocket pairs, broadway cards (AK, AQ, AJ), suited connectors (65s, 87s), suited aces (Axs).


  • Reason: Late position is advantageous for playing a wider range due to positional advantage post-flop. You can play more speculative hands profitably and capitalize on weaker ranges from earlier positions.




Early Stages:


  • Best Hands: Similar to cash games in early positions, focus on strong pairs and Broadway cards.
  • Reason: In the early stages, survival is key, so playing strong hands that can potentially win big pots or mitigate losses is crucial.


Middle Stages:


  • Best Hands: Begin to incorporate more aggressive play with a wider range, including suited connectors, suited aces, and Broadway hands.
  • Reasoning: As blinds increase, accumulating chips becomes more critical. Exploiting tighter opponents and building your stack with well-timed aggression is vital.


Late Stages (Bubble and Final Tables)


  • Best Hands: Adjust based on stack sizes and opponent tendencies but generally include more aggressive play with a wider range, including small pairs, suited connectors, and weaker aces.
  • Reason: Playing to win becomes paramount. Exploiting short stacks and putting pressure on medium stacks with well-timed aggression can secure a higher finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pocket Aces really the best-starting hand?


Pocket aces (AA) have the highest preflop equity against any single hand, making them statistically the most likely to win before the community cards are dealt. They are less likely to be dominated by other hands and have the potential to win big pots if played correctly.


How should I play pocket Kings (KK) pre-flop?


Pocket kings are very strong but can be vulnerable to aces. It is often wise to play them aggressively to narrow the field and extract value, but be cautious if facing preflop aggression, especially from tight opponents who might have aces.


What makes Ace-King suited (AKs) a strong hand pre-flop?


Ace-king is suited to combine the potential for a top pair with the added advantage of flush and straight possibilities. It has good preflop equity against most hands and can be played aggressively to capitalize on its versatility.


Are pocket Queens (QQ) a strong hand pre-flop?


While pocket queens can be a powerful starting hand, their vulnerability to overcards, such as aces and kings, cannot be ignored. Therefore, it is important to assess the situation thoughtfully post-flop if an opponent becomes aggressive with an overcard on the board.


Although pocket aces (AA) are widely regarded as the most advantageous poker hand to play preflop because of their superior preflop equity and potential to secure massive pots, it is essential to base your gameplay decisions on the situation on the game table. Familiarizing yourself with each hand's relative strengths and weaknesses enables you to make well-informed decisions that improve your probability of success in the game.

Customer Care
1800 572 0611
10 AM to 7 PM | All Days